How we gave our help center an extreme make-over: 6 best practices
Imagine you just bought a brand new TV (4K, HDR Led, the whole package deal). After much deliberation, the online experience in the webshop has finally won you over. Due to the great advertisement, the brand’s story has convinced you about buying a new TV.
When your order arrives, you start unpacking immediately and get ready to install. Or so you thought. You stumble upon an issue and dive into the help guide. 80 pages of muddled texts. HELP! In the webshop, it sure didn’t seem as complicated.
Companies often drop the ball when it comes to post-purchase publishing, even though that is the perfect moment to get your customers excited about the user experience of your product.
Why good help center content is important
I dare say that you read some form of help content every day: whether it is the help menu in Google Chrome, the directions in public transport, or the well-known drawings of IKEA (when you try to assemble that PAX closet on your own).
One of the best ways to offer helpful content in an online environment is by creating a help center. This way, you make sure your customers get the best product experience. You can turn beginners into experts by giving customers the possibility to understand every nook and cranny of your product.
Thereby, customers nowadays often prefer self-service over live support. They want to find the answer to their question as quickly as possible, without having to rely on an agent. By offering a help center, you enable them to help themselves at all times.
Last but not least, good help center content can take some pressure off your customer service team as well. When customers can help themselves, your team will have to deal with fewer customer queries. They will win back time to spend on more complicated issues.
How to create better help center content
We recently gave our help center a complete make-over. Dragana, our product marketer, worked hard to figure out the best way to create and structure our new help center.
I asked her about her six best practices.
1. Define who your customers are
It starts with defining who your customers are. After all, you’re writing your help center content from their perspective.
So, get to know the majority of your customers, and take their vocabulary and knowledge into account while writing your content.
In addition, we must remember that we want to give our customers an equal experience across all our channels.
Dragana has taken this into account by:
- Sticking to our tone and voice;
- Avoiding jargon as much as possible;
- Using simple and basic words;
- Writing straight to the point;
- Cutting out all the selling parts.
The last point may be the most overlooked one.
“You’re writing content for your customers, so you don’t have to convince them to buy your product. Just stick to the point and let them get the most out of your product right away,” says Dragana.
2. List your customer’s struggles
You want your content to solve customer’s issues. Therefore, you need to know all about the most common questions and problems.
There are different ways to gather this information:
Ask your Customer Service team for context
The only ones who may know the customer’s problems better than the customer himself are your support agents. Dragana asked our Customer Service team to create a list with frequently asked questions and issues.
Let new employees experience your product
Ask your new employees to explore your product with a fresh perspective. Let them take notes and schedule a meeting to discuss their discoveries.
Use the content of your frequently asked questions.
At Trengo, we have created a community, which is a webpage where customers can share their input. From wishes and ideas to questions and issues. We not only use this input to create good help center content but also to improve our product.
Label your customer conversations
In Trengo, users can attach labels to their conversations. Also, they can get statistics on their label usage. This way, they exactly know the most discussed topics.
3. Build a structure for your help center
A brand new help center first needs a good foundation. That’s why Dragana focused on re-structuring our help center as well. She used customer’s pain points to create categories and decided on which articles to write.
“It is important to structure your help center from the beginning because your content will add-up in no time,” says Dragana. “I started by creating a broad structure and then went specific.”
Create categories out of customer’s pain points
Dragana collaborated with Sales and wrote down our customer’s pain points. She used these pain points to create categories that cover the load.
Structure topics out of categories
The next step was to divide the categories into different topics. Let’s take Trengo as an example. As an omnichannel inbox, the category ‘channels’ can be divided into email, WhatsApp, live chat, Messenger, and so on.
Create short articles
The last step was to create articles for each topic. You have to keep these articles as short as possible.
“Every time I noticed an article got too lengthy, I split it up. Nothing is more overwhelming than reading these long articles,” says Dragana. “Also, make sure every article you’re writing covers but one specific action or issue. It makes it easier for your customer to find the right one.”
4. Combine text with illustrations
Studies have shown that visualization helps us to learn more quickly. That’s why it’s essential to not only make textual help center content but add illustrations and videos as well.
That’s why Dragana added screenshots in many of the articles in our Help Center. She kept the following things in mind:
- Use realistic data.
- Don’t ever use real customer data in any of your content.
- Make sure you capture the whole feature or element you’re talking about. Don’t cut the screenshot in odd places.
- Zoom out and take some landscape screenshots. This gives your customer the full user experience.
- Add notes to your screenshots to focus on a specific feature or area.
- Create screen videos or GIFS as well. This makes it easier for customers to follow your lead.
Of course, screenshots are only relevant for showing digital products. In case you offer a physical product, you can add photos or illustrations to your help center articles.
5. Make your articles easy to read
Let’s be honest: your help center may not be the customer’s most favorite place to be. The least we can do is offer them good, clear, and readable content. This will make it more likely they’ll find the answer on their own.
Besides that, they will feel treated the same way before as after their purchase.
You can make your articles scannable by using the following elements:
- Bullet points
Dragana structured every article the same way. This does not only make the articles easy to read but also ensures the customer has the same experience throughout the entire help center.
6. Optimize your help center articles for search
If you want to cover all possible questions and problems, your help center will quickly run up to quite a few articles. This can make it challenging for your customers to find the information they need.
Trengo’s help center has a search engine, which allows customers to find matching articles by typing in a few keywords. This way, you can make sure your customers will always find the content they are looking for.
Dragana made sure our articles covered the most important keywords:
- In the article titles;
- In the article subtitles;
- In the article description.
Keep your help center up to date
You renewed your help center. Now what? You want to make sure your content stays updated over time and keeps making customers happy.
Here are some tips on updating your content in the future:
- Gather a team for updating your help center: together with a team, Dragana makes sure to update the help center weekly.
- Collect help center article requests: our agents are using a Notion board to collect personal requests and frequently asked questions from our customers.
- Let customers rate your articles: this way, you’ll find out if your article is relevant to your customers or not.
Come to the rescue
When it comes to writing help center content, we sometimes tend to think that a simple instruction will do the trick.
But by taking a step back and becoming aware of your customer’s needs, your content will not only help the customer further but also provide the best possible product experience.
As Dragana puts it, “It really is about keeping your customer’s goal in mind and not deviate from it.”